Pakistani government has been slammed by Amnesty International for its “crude” imposition of a travel ban on Cyril Almeida for reporting the clash between civilian officials and military over covert support for militants. The assistant editor at Dawn, was placed under the country’s “Exit Control List,” and was forbidden from travelling out of Pakistan.
Expressing his disappointment on Twitter, he wrote that he was “saddened” and “puzzled” by the government’s move. His report which was published on Friday, prompted threats on social media and was denied three times by the office of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. But Dawn said it stands by the report.
An NDTV report carried that Dawn News Editor Mubashir Zaidi said that all the people who were part of the meeting were contacted by the paper and everyone in the civil administration “was aware that the story was being done”.
“This is unprecedented,” he added. “Four clarifications have been issued so far to a single news report. Then the person who has written the story has been put on exit control list, which is a first in Pakistan.” Pakistan minister Mohd Zubair told NDTV that the government had to “deny the bottom line message that the story conveyed” since it was very difficult to verify the authenticity of the story. “We have no source to verify story. The issue of how the story was reported was the problem,” he said.
Published on October 6, the report cited sources and claimed that top civilian officials had asked Pakistan’s powerful army to renounce covert support for proxy fighters such as the Haqqani network allied to the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks — or face isolation. The civilian government, he wrote, warned that there should be no interference with the police when they take action “against militant groups that are banned or until now considered off-limits for civilian action”.